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Short poem

Sir Thomas Wyatt (1503-1542)

My Lute Awake

              1My lute awake! perform the last
              2Labour that thou and I shall waste,
              3And end that I have now begun;
              4For when this song is sung and past,
              5My lute be still, for I have done.

              6As to be heard where ear is none,
              7As lead to grave in marble stone,
              8My song may pierce her heart as soon;
              9Should we then sigh or sing or moan?
            10No, no, my lute, for I have done.

            11The rocks do not so cruelly
            12Repulse the waves continually,
            13As she my suit and affection;
            14So that I am past remedy,
            15Whereby my lute and I have done.

            16Proud of the spoil that thou hast got
            17Of simple hearts thorough Love's shot,
            18By whom, unkind, thou hast them won,
            19Think not he hath his bow forgot,
            20Although my lute and I have done.

            21Vengeance shall fall on thy disdain
            22That makest but game on earnest pain.
            23Think not alone under the sun
            24Unquit to cause thy lovers plain,
            25Although my lute and I have done.

            26Perchance thee lie wethered and old
            27The winter nights that are so cold,
            28Plaining in vain unto the moon;
            29Thy wishes then dare not be told;
            30Care then who list, for I have done.

            31And then may chance thee to repent
            32The time that thou hast lost and spent
            33To cause thy lovers sigh and swoon;
            34Then shalt thou know beauty but lent,
            35And wish and want as I have done.

            36Now cease, my lute; this is the last
            37Labour that thou and I shall waste,
            38And ended is that we begun.
            39Now is this song both sung and past:
            40My lute be still, for I have done.


1] "The louer complayneth the vnkindnes of his loue" (Tottel).

2] labour: work, and petition.

7] lead to grave: lead to engrave (lead is not hard enough to cut marble).

17] thorough: through
Love's shot: Cupid's arrow.

19] his bow forgot: Cupid's bow, still a danger for the lady.

22] makest but game on: only makes fun of.

24] Unquit: unrequited, not subjected to pain.
plain: to complain.

26] wethered: withered (possibly weathered).

27] nights: Devonshire MS reading; Egerton MS "night".

28] plaining: complaining.

30] who list: who likes.

Online text copyright © 2003, Ian Lancashire for the Department of English, University of Toronto.
Published by the Web Development Group, Information Technology Services, University of Toronto Libraries.

Original text: British Library Egerton MS. 2711, fol. 43v-44; cf. Richard Harrier, Canon (1975): 157-58.
First publication date: 1557
RPO poem editor: F. D. Hoeniger, Ian Lancashire
RP edition: RP 1963: I.8; RPO 1994.
Recent editing: 2:2002/4/24

Rhyme: aabab

Other poems by Sir Thomas Wyatt